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2014 Draft Prep: Golden Tate will be a Fantasy star

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Prior to the start of preseason action, many Fantasy owners were skeptical of Golden Tate. They likely weren't expecting a big statistical leap despite his move from Seattle to Detroit.

It will be interesting to see how things change now that we've seen Tate on the field.

He's has come out and played well through two games, especially the second outing against Oakland when he had three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. We never doubted Tate would shine with the Lions and the prediction here is Tate will be a Fantasy star this season.

Before the preseason started, Tate's Average Draft Position was No. 77 overall, which is Round 7 in a 12-team league. He was being drafted after guys like DeSean Jackson, Emmanuel Sanders and Julian Edelman, among others. I'd gladly take Tate over those receivers, and I would draft him as early as Round 5.

Now, to be fair, Tate has never had a big season before. His best finish as a Fantasy option was last year when he was the No. 28 receiver in standard leagues with 64 catches for 898 yards and five touchdowns in Seattle.

But moving from the run-oriented Seahawks to the pass-happy Lions is the equivalent of taking off training wheels. It's time for Tate to fly.

What we like about Tate is he's among the most reliable receivers in the NFL with only five drops since 2011. He has caught 144 of 149 catchable passes thrown his way over that span, according to Pro Football Focus.

His hands are going to be tested because Matthew Stafford has attempted at least 630 passes in three consecutive years. By comparison, Russell Wilson has combined for 800 passes the past two seasons.

Tate had just 98 targets last season, but that number should rise significantly. He will be in single coverage on nearly every play because of Calvin Johnson drawing constant attention. And Stafford has had plenty of time to develop a rapport with Tate since Johnson has missed the first two preseason games.

Stafford must have been dying for a receiver like Tate. The players who have finished No. 2 in receptions behind Johnson the past three years have been Reggie Bush in 2013 with 54 catches, Brandon Pettigrew in 2012 with 59 catches and Pettigrew again in 2011 with 83 grabs.

The receivers who have played opposite Johnson over that time have been Nate Burleson, Titus Young, Ryan Broyles, Kris Durham and Kevin Ogletree. No offense to those players, but that screams mediocrity.

Tate will make Stafford better, he will make the Lions better and he will enhance Fantasy lineups with his ability in a high-powered offense. You should plan on drafting Tate as a No. 2 Fantasy receiver and he has the chance to help you win championships this season.

This is going to be a career year for Tate and he's ready to become a Fantasy star.

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Player News
Earl Thomas on bad shoulder: 'I'll still play fearless'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:50 pm ET) Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, who dislocated his shoulder in the NFC Championship Game, could remain limited in practice this week ahead of the Super Bowl, reports the Seattle Times. But he said he won't be thinking about the injury against the Patriots.

"When I come alive nothing is limited,’’ he said. “I’ll still play fearless, throw my body around, and let whatever happens, happens.’’

Thomas did allow that he might have to rely more on his teammates.

“My mindset is I have an opportunity to really trust my teammates,’’ he said. “This is the first game I’m going to have to trust them because of my injury. So I really, really, really trust my teammates, and that’s what I’m banking on, my teammates doing what they need to do and I need to come through myself.’’

It's unclear if Thomas will need offseason surgery.

The Seahawks are 1-point underdogs after opening as 2.5-point favorites.


Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck pondering retirement
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:17 pm ET) Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck told ESPN.com he's not sure if he'll retire or return for a 17th season. Hasselbeck, 39, appeared in four games this season and played well, posting a 102.6 passer rating.

He's set to hit unrestricted free agency.


Colts expected to part ways with center A.Q. Shipley
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:11 pm ET) Colts center A.Q. Shipley is headed for unrestricted free agency, and the team is expected to let him go, reports ESPN.com. 

"Shipley went from starting in Week 1 to losing his starting job, to being inactive, to being the third-string center," the report said. "All without any explanation from coach Chuck Pagano or anybody in the front office."

Shipley, 28, has played in 45 career games, starting 19.


Report: Dolphins aim to re-sign TE Charles Clay
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:57 pm ET) The Dolphins have privately indicated they want to re-sign impending free agent tight end Charles Clay and will make him an offer in coming weeks, reports the Miami Herald. Clay caught 58 passes for 605 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games this season.

Miami also is high on Clay's backup, Dion Sims, who's signed through 2016, the paper said.


Browns extremely thin -- and short -- at wide receiver
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:19 pm ET) With wideout Josh Gordon facing a one-year suspension, the Browns are dangerously thin at receiver entering 2015. ESPN.com notes the Browns have two returning slot receivers in Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel and "an undersized situational receiver" in 5-10 Travis Benjamin.

Miles Austin is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after catching 47 passes for 568 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games. Tight end Jordan Cameron also is set to be an unrestricted free agent.

Hawkins, a 5-7, 180-pounder, led the team with 63 grabs for 824 yards, with two touchdowns. Cleveland failed to add a wideout in last year's draft but almost certainly must address the position in the 2015 draft.


Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas to practice this week
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told SiriusXM NFL Radio that cornerback Richard Sherman (elbow) and safety Earl Thomas (shoulder) will practice this week and should be "good to go" for the Super Bowl. Both got hurt in the NFC Championship Game.

Seattle is a 1-point underdog to the Patriots after opening as a 2.5-point favorite.


New optimism regarding Justin Blackmon's potential return
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:48 pm ET) A lot of people inside the NFL are optimistic Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon is "overcoming his issues" and will be back in the league in 2015, reports Fox Sports. Blackmon got suspended in November 2013 following his third violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.

He checked into a treatment facility last September. General manager Dave Caldwell said recently he hopes Blackmon wins reinstatement, but is not counting on it.


Reports: Josh Gordon tests positive again, facing 1-year ban
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:55 pm ET) Browns wideout Josh Gordon tested positive for alcohol and "now will be subject to a one-year banishment," sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Gordon was suspended for the first 10 games this season for a repeat violation of the league's drug policy.

Pro Football Talk reports that because of Gordon's past DUI, alcohol was one of the substances for which he was being tested. The website said a one-year suspension is likely a "done deal."

The Browns also suspended Gordon for missing a Saturday walkthrough before the regular-season finale, and CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported then the Browns might be ready to part ways with the ultra-talented 23-year-old.

The Browns released the following statement regarding the news: 

"Clearly we are very disappointed to hear the latest report regarding Josh. At this point, due to the confidential nature of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, we have not been made aware by the league of a failed test. We are in the process of gathering more information and will provide further comment at the appropriate time."


Report: Jordan Cameron expected to leave via free agency
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:14 pm ET) Browns tight end Jordan Cameron is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and ESPNCleveland.com does not expect him to re-sign with Cleveland. A concussion and shoulder injury limited Cameron to 10 games this season.

The 26-year-old caught 24 passes for 424 yards and two touchdowns after a breakout 2013 season in which he made 80 grabs for 917 yards and seven scores.


Pats C Bryan Stork showing 'no noticeable signs of injury'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:53 pm ET) Patriots starting center Bryan Stork, who missed the AFC title game with a knee injury, practiced Sunday and "continues to show no noticeable signs of injury," reports ESPN.com. The rookie is on track to play in the Super Bowl.

New England is a 1-point favorite over Seattle after opening as a 2.5-point underdog.


 
 
 
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